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  health > cancer > story pageAIDSAgingAlternative MedicineCancerChildrenDiet & FitnessMenWomen

More people smoking despite known health risks

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November 18, 1999
Web posted at: 6:01 p.m. EST (2301 GMT)

(CNN) -- Thursday is the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smoke Out," a day smokers around the country are encouraged to kick the habit. Despite millions of dollars in state spending for anti-smoking campaigns, more adults and teens are smoking now than in the early 1990s.

In 1991, 28 percent of high school age teen-agers said they had smoked in the past month. By 1997, the most recent figures available, that number jumped to 36 percent. And young adults aren't doing much better. Smoking among 18 to 24 year-olds has increased from 25 percent in 1990 to 29 percent in 1997.

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"There could be many reasons behind the reversal. There's of course a lot of money spent on advertising and the promotion of cigarettes. It's glamorized in movies. There's sibling and peer pressure to smoke for adolescents," said Dr. Robert Anda of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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In California, the Department of Health Services launched a high-powered anti-smoking campaign nearly ten years ago. Officials there say they believe the ads are working and that the number of young adults smoking in California is less than the national average and not increasing as fast.

But anti-smoking advocates say there is still much more to be done.

"Cigarette smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in this country. And to see kids taking up smoking at high rates and to see so many adults continuing to smoke despite all the efforts to get them to quit is disturbing," said Anda.

Smoking can cause more than cancer

What is known about the health risks associated with smoking is growing. Most people know smoking can damage your heart and lungs, but few may realize it can also affect the nose, throat and sinuses.

Dr. Jordan Josephson, a New York ear nose and throat specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, says he sees a number of sinus and allergy problems related to tobacco smoke.

"Cigarette smoking is definitely one of the causes of sinus disease. Patients that are smoking have inflammation in their nose from the smoke. It's like burning the insides of your nose," Josephson said.

Cancer experts say cigarette smoke and exposure to secondhand smoke can increase a person's risk of nasal and sinus cancer.

"We know that smoking causes cancer by bringing carcinogens, cancer causing chemicals, to the entire nose, throat, lungs, food pipe, the whole so-called aero-digestive system," said Dr. Ronald Blum of Beth Israel Medical Center.

Secondhand smoke can also affect children whose parents smoke and may make any allergies they have worse, according to experts.

"Cigarette smoke causes swelling which as a result, prevents the child and the adult from breathing properly. In addition, the nicotine from the cigarettes has a bad effect on the membranes in the nose," Josephson said.

Allergies can affect the lungs and nasal passages in children, and recent studies show young children are at risk for frequent colds and severe nasal problems when repeatedly exposed to cigarette smoke.

Medical Correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore and Correspondent Kate Snow contributed to this report.



SPECIAL SECTION:
Tobacco under attack


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